KEY BISCAYNE (CBSMiami/AP) — We’re getting down to the nitty-gritty in Key Biscayne.
Victoria Azarenka beat Serena Williams in the Indian Wells final less than two weeks ago, and she now faces a less daunting path to the Miami Open title.
Azarenka advanced to the semifinals and improved to 20-1 this year by beating Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2 Wednesday.
With Williams eliminated in the fourth round, Azarenka will next play the winner of Wednesday night’s quarterfinal between No. 2-seeded Angelique Kerber and No. 22 Madison Keys, the lone remaining American in either draw.
No. 15 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who ousted Williams, will play No. 19 Timea Bacsinszky in the other semifinal Thursday.
Azarenka, seeded 13th, is trying to become the third woman to win Indian Wells and Key Biscayne in the same year, a feat achieved only by Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters.
“If I’m able to make it, it’s great,” Azarenka said. “It seems so close, but it’s really far. I want to stay in the present. I want to continue to fight and keep getting better.”
Azarenka won Key Biscayne in 2009 and 2011. A former No. 1 player and two-time Grand Slam champion, she fell out of the top 30 in 2014 because of injuries but will be back in the top five next week.
Against the No. 24-seeded Konta, Azarenka wasn’t always pleased with her play. She received a code violation for chastising herself too colorfully, and after one rally jabbed her eyes with two fingers as if to say, “Watch the ball.”
But Azarenka never lost serve and committed just 14 unforced errors in 119 points. Her deep, steady groundstrokes gradually broke down Konta’s baseline game, and the Brit double-faulted three times on break point.
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